Jargon Buster

Allocated Conveyancing Specialist

Communication is key to in reducing normal stress caused by conveyancing. Find a solicitor who is prepared to allocate their time on a one to one basis so they know your case. Some conveyancers operate large teams which risks lack of consistency and continuity.

Completion Date

At Completion the buyer’s solicitor sends the balance of the purchase money (less any deposit) to the seller’s solicitor and once the seller receipts this the keys are released to you and you can finally relax and move in.

Contract / Agreement

This is the agreement between seller and the buyer and sets out the terms of what has been agreed such as the property, the price and the names of the parties. It also deals with the process if something goes wrong. It is no longer necessary for the parties to meet to sign the same contract. The seller’s solicitor prepares two copies of the same contract with each party signing their own copy of the document and at exchange, the contracts are literally exchanged between the solicitors at which point legally binding both buyer and seller.


On exchange of contracts the seller usually insists on receiving from the buyer a 10% deposit of the purchase price. However as many people are not contributing as much as 10% to the purchase, reduced deposits are often agreed down the chain. If that happens then in the event of the buyer failing to complete the purchase through no fault of the seller, the contract will provide that you still make the deposit up to the full 10%. You may also have to pay compensation to the seller if the seller loses out through your failure to complete.

Energy Performance Certificate

From 1st June 2007, each home will have to be inspected and an Energy Performance Certificate prepared, before a property is marketed for sale. The Energy Performance Certificate is similar to the certificates now provided with domestic appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. Its purpose is to record how energy-efficient a property is as a building. The certificate will provide a rating of the property from A to G, where A is very efficient and G is very inefficient.

Exchange of Contracts

This is when a legally binding contract is made. Once we exchange you can no longer be “Gazumped”. It is also at this point when you fix the day the move in-completion date takes place. This is a very important date as from the minute your contract is exchanged the transaction becomes binding. From that moment on, the seller must sell and the buyer must buy at the agreed price. Until contracts are exchanged NOTHING is binding – either party can walk away from the transaction with no penalty. Prior to exchange the seller and buyer will agree dates between themselves and then notify their respective solicitors who will try to fit in with the suggested date. If there are unforeseen delays, for example, if the buyer does not receive a search or mortgage offer in time, or any other complication then the completion date may have to be revised. For this reason you should not make any firm commitments such as giving notice on a job, arranging removals or arranging to go away without first contacting us.

Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form

This is a list of the items at the property which the seller must complete stating if they are either included or excluded from the agreed price. This form is completed at an early stage by the seller and sent to the buyer, so that both parties understand what is included in the selling price. If you are the seller, when you let us have the form we will send you a copy back so that you know what you have agreed to. If you are the buyer we send you a copy of the form as soon as it is received by ourselves from the seller’s solicitors so that any difficulties can be resolved at an early stage.


This describes how the land is owned. Land is either freehold (usually houses) or leasehold (usually flats).


Where you are a buyer and another buyer outbids you or increases their offer and is accepted pre exchange of contract. You will have lost the purchase to that other party. The government currently does not prevent this.

Indemnity Insurance Policy

When buying the buyer solicitors may spot defects in the title of the property, such as breach of covenants, lack of easements or missing planning or building regulations for example. In such cases, in order for the buyer to proceed to purchase, they will either need for the defect to be fixed, or in some cases, they can have access to what is called an indemnity insurance policy to cover the loss for that risk. It is not a cure but an insurance policy to cover financial loss. This has now become acceptable in most conveyancing transactions as a way to move. The cost can vary from less than a hundred pounds to up to £1000 for more problematic defects. The higher the risk the more the insurance company will charge for covering that risk. Your solicitor will be able to help you obtain this quote for you.

Land Registry

This is the Central Government organisation in England and Wales which retains records of who owns every piece of land, and under what conditions. This was set up in 1925 to simplify the conveyancing process and register all land. Whilst the majority of land is now registered to date not all land in England and Wales is registered today and this is partly due to the fact that land can only be registered following certain “triggering events”. The Land Registry has their own website which provides useful information. See our Useful Links page for a link to this site.


Temporary ownership of the property. When the lease expires ownership of the property belongs to the freeholder. This normally applies to flats.

Legal Fee

This is a cost for the time that by your solicitor on a normal straightforward conveyancing transaction. All solicitors regulated by the Law Society are required to set out their basic fees for this in their quote estimate but also set out a method to calculate additional charges for additional work if required by your case once it has started. Some solicitors will apply an hourly rate to all additional time spent. Each is different. AV Rillofor example, adopt a more modern approach, and try to limit our additional charges by setting out a costs menu of discounted fixed rate costs for possible additional work. Whoever you choose to instruct, before you do so, you must look at their terms of business. If they don’t send this with their quote estimate then you are missing valuable costs information which risk you paying additional fees you did not know about when you started. You must therefore ask to see all terms with your email quote. After it may be too late.

Local Authority Search

This is a document which the buyer solicitor prepares and sends to the seller’s local authority and which raises questions regarding the property. It covers such items such as, whether the road serving the property should be maintained by the council (i.e. adopted by them rather than the buyer having to contribute privately), whether there have been any planning applications on the property, and a number of other things. The search is against the property only and does not cover the surrounding area. A word of warning – the search will not show any Planning Permissions or matters affecting land or buildings outside the boundaries of the property. You must therefore let us know at the start of the transaction if you require information on any particular point or if you wish us to ask any particular questions of the local authority.

Money Laundering Regulations

The Government has introduced stringent money laundering regulations in the UK with the aim to prevent the risk of terrorism and illegal activity within the UK. The burden of identity and tracing the source of money is strict and these apply in all UK conveyancing transactions as these involve the use of money to purchase property. Solicitors are prevented from acting for any seller or buyer unless their client can pass these UK Money Laundering Regulations. Talk to your solicitor about this at your quote stage in case you have any risk of difficulties such if your passport is missing, or you don’t have sufficient ID evidence or your purchase money is coming from an external source, such as a family member etc, as this can slow you down and risk you not being able to move in time or at all.

Mortgage Deed

The legal charge of the property to the mortgage lender.

Mortgage Offer

This is a loan taken out and charged against your property to assist you in buying your property. You cannot sell the property without paying the mortgage off. For the buyer contracts should not be exchanged until an acceptable written mortgage offer has been received and approved by the buyer. A verbal confirmation of a mortgage offer will leave you at risk. If you are selling we will contact your mortgage lender for a redemption figure to ask how much it will cost to pay off your mortgage – we will send you the initial copy of this figure. A final redemption figure is then released by the lender prior to completion and the lender will then evidence the discharge of the mortgage by endorsing the formal receipt in the form of an END or DS1. Also you should consider whether your existing mortgage has any penalties on completion.

Mortgagee Fees

These fees are separate fees normally charged for acting on behalf of your bank or building society if you have or are taking out an mortgage.


Ensure that you have planned sufficiently to make payments towards your mortgage and that you have sufficient cover in place should your circumstances change. As we specialise in conveyancing we do not provide financial advice. We recommend you always seek advice from an independent financial advisor before you embark on this. You can contact the IFA for an independent financial advisor.

Property Information Form

This is a questionnaire about the seller’s property which the sellers are duty bound to complete which we will then send to the buyer’s solicitor. It covers such items as guarantees, neighbour disputes and boundaries, planning permissions, occupation and other matters. Failure to disclose information may give rise to the risk for the buyer to take action against you. To help speed up the transaction we send you these out at an early stage in the transaction. This will speed up our ability to send out an early contract.

Quality -CQS Conveyancing Quality Scheme

The Law Society has introduced it’s ‘Gold Standard’ for solicitors to achieve if they deal with conveyancing called the ‘Quality’ accreditation (CQS). To protect buyers and sellers (and ensure they receive a safer transaction from an conveyancing expert) The Law Society recommend that you only instruct a solicitor who has this Quality mark. It will give you peace of mind and ensure you receive a Law Society professional service to the highest ethical standards.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty is a government tax charged to the buyer only. Unless an exemption applies you are liable to pay for this tax as a buyer at completion. Ask your solicitor to work out the Stamp Duty tax you need to pay. They should be able to work this out when they send you their quote estimate. It is based on your purchase price. This is a tax form and if you instruct your solicitor to complete this for you then they will have the expertise to do this. Most will charge a fee for completing this form. it should be contained in their terms, if not you must ask them. The benefit of they doing this for you is firstly, they take the time to do this and not you (it has some 70 questions listed); secondly, it does have penalty implications if it is incorrectly completed (so by paying your solicitor to do this for you, they, and not you, face the government penalty if they get it wrong.


This is a report carried out by a surveyor on the physical state of the property you are buying and is different from a mortgage valuation if you are obtaining a mortgage. As the valuation merely satisfies the lender that the property is of a sufficient value to protect their interest we recommend that the buyer should invest in the best survey available by a qualified surveyor. As in law when buying a property it is always “sold as seen”. It is for you, as the buyer, to discover any physical defects by inspecting the property and via a survey. At the very least we believe an RICS Home Buyer’s Report should be commissioned in the first instance. You have some safeguards if the survey reveals a problem which requires further investigation as pre exchange you are not bound to purchase the property and you can decide whether to continue with your purchase at all.

The Law Society

We are solicitors and are regulated by the Law Society. We agree to adhere to a strict code of practice giving you the added peace of mind that you are dealing with solicitors who owe you a strict duty of care and are bonded by the ethics and professional code of the Law Society. If you are unsatisfied with a service you have the peace of mind of knowing that you can refer such matters should they ever arise to the Law Society. Rest assured, with A.V. Rilloyou will not need to do this.

Title Deeds

Our policy is to speed up your transaction. We request Title Deeds at a very early stage as they are the documents which evidence that the seller actually owns their property. Further it sets out any rights or obligations that affect the property. Both of these will be required to issue a contract on your behalf and both are required by the buyer before they proceed further. If we act as your seller’s solicitors our policy is to ask you at a very early stage (so that we can save valuable time) for your title deeds. If you have a mortgage then your bank or building society will normally be holding your title deeds. We will need to know your mortgage account number and the name and address of the lender.

Transfer deed

As the buyer’s solicitors this is a document which we prepare and send to the seller. If we are the seller’s solicitor we ensure that the transfer deed has been properly prepared by the buyer. This is a vital document as it passes the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer. It is dated with the completion date and will be sent to the Land Registry after completion. The Land Registry will use this Transfer deed to change their records and show the buyer as the new owner of the property.